For the second straight year, the Utes have been placed in the West bracket but have to play clear on the other side of the country.
Think they care about a little travel, though? They're just happy about getting in the NCAA Tournament.Durham, N.C., is where the 21-5 Utes will be headed as a No. 7 seed and will be facing 10th-seeded Louisville (19-11) Saturday. The berth came after what seemed like a lifetime of waiting for the Utes, who were unsure about their chances before Selection Sunday.
Utah was the 61st team announced, causing for some anxious moments, especially since WAC schools New Mexico, Hawaii, SMU and Colorado State were announced earlier. But the wait was worth the reward.
"Holy cow! Could you believe they waited to say our name so long?" said Ute guard Alli Bills. "North Carolina is a long way away, but I'm just happy to get in."
This is the fourth straight year the Utes have made the field but by far the most gratifying.
"We didn't know if we'd get in," said Julie Krommenhoek.
After losing to BYU in last week's WAC Tournament, the possibilities seemed grim. "It's a good thing we did make it. I didn't want to end my career on (a loss to BYU)."
Last year the Utes were shipped to Charlotesville, Va., even though they were in the West bracket. This year, it's Durham - more specifically Duke University - that will be a host for the West. The Utes are far from complaining though.
"It didn't matter where we went," said Angie Thill. "We wanted to get in, that's it. Now we are."
The thoughts of playing at one of the nations most historic basketball sites also excites the Utes. Cameron Indoor Arena has long been one of the most recognized sites in all of college basketball.
Now the Utes get to experience it all firsthand.
"Getting a chance to play at Duke is exciting," said Krommenhoek. "I can think of worse places we could have ended up."
Utah coach Elaine Elliott was confident her team would get in, but being one of the final four teams mentioned was enough for even the Utes' cool coach to almost break down.
"I was going crazy," said Elliott. "The kids were fine compared to me."